Palat’s second goal marked the 400th point of his career to become the seventh player to record at least as many points with the Lightning. The 30-year-old, a seventh-round selection, made his NHL debut with the club in 2012-13.

Lightning Sign Cirelli, Sergachev, Cernak To Eight-Year Deals; Palat Not Returning

TAMPA, Fla. – Following the trade of defenseman Ryan McDonagh to Nashville earlier this month, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois expressed interest in keeping defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak and forward Anthony Cirelli in Tampa for the long term.

Mission accomplished.

On Wednesday, the start of the NHL’s free-agent signing period, the team announced each of the two-time Stanley Cup winners signed on for another eight years. They could have been restricted free agents next summer.

The Lightning also signed veteran defenseman Ian Cole to a one-year, $3-million deal and brought forward Vladislav Namestnikov back to Tampa at one year and $2.5 million.

Following the trade of defenseman Ryan McDonagh to Nashville earlier this month, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois expressed interest in keeping defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak and forward Anthony Cirelli in Tampa for the long term.
Ondrej Palat, Credit: Tampa Bay Lightning

Defenseman Jan Rutta signed with the Penguins and Ondrej Palat, as clutch as they come in the glare of the playoff spotlight, had not signed with another team by early evening. However, published reports indicated BriseBois acknowledged the Lightning could not come to terms with the forward. That is not unexpected given the team’s cap situation.

After the Lightning traded McDonagh and his $6.75 million cap hit to Nashville on July 3, BriseBois noted the move, while difficult, was needed to free up space in order to re-sign the aforementioned trio.

“We freed up some cap space for 2023-24 and beyond, which I am hopeful will allow us to secure the rights to Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak, and Mikhail Sergachev for years to come,” he said.

Cernak (25), Cirelli (24) and Sergachev (24), who have a combined 257 games of postseason experience, have been instrumental in the Lightning’s recent stretch of success and represent the core of a younger group the team can build around as the decade progresses.

Cirelli, who underwent shoulder surgery following the Lightning’s run to a third straight Cup final appearance and said in a conference call that he is not sure of the length of his recovery, led the team’s forwards with 67 blocked shots. Cernak led the team in hits with 165 despite missing 27 games, and Sergachev worked his way up to fifth all-time in team scoring (174 points) among defensemen. 

Sergachev’s deal has an average annual value of $8.5 million, Cirelli’s $6.25 million and Cernak’s $5.2 million.

“I think it is awesome,” said Cirelli, when asked about the three of them remaining with the team for such a length. “We all came in kind of at the same time. They are good buddies of mine as well and it is kind of nice to go through this process with them and know that we are going to be together in the future.”

With McDonagh dealt and Rutta moving on, the Lightning found themselves with needs on the blue line. The 33-year-old Cole, who had 19 points in 75 games with Carolina last season, has played in 670 career NHL games with six teams. He was a first-round selection (18th overall) of the Blues in 2007.

Namestnikov was a first-round selection (27th overall) of the Lightning in 2011 and debuted in 2013-14. The 29-year-old scored 53 goals in 262 games before being shipped to the Rangers in a 2018 the trade deadline deal that brought McDonagh to the Bolts.

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